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I completed my nursing education from a nursing school of India and never did I imagine that I would be a research nurse. At that time I guess the role never entered my mind because in my country there is not a transparency of the role nurses play in research in clinical practice. I for one only recognized the role nurses played in research activities lately. When other nurses ask me what I do and I tell them that I am a research nurse, the next question is always, “what is that?”.

I am a member of a clinical research team of a tertiary hospital in India where my role is not seen by other nurses as nursing. I guess the lack of recognition of my role in research stems from the lack of exposure in my country of nurses performing formal investigations involving patient care. For this reason, I am convinced that in order to turn the view of others, relative to nursing research and nurses conducting them, that I become a beacon, a source of “knowing” and an example so that interest in it may be generated.

When I collect data for my team’s investigative work, I make sure that my nursing identity remains. I proudly display my identity by saying that I’m a “Research Nurse”. I continually enter into dialogue with bedside nurses about the latest in nursing practice so that they may know that what I do contributes to patient care and impacts nursing practice. As an example, when investigating the prevalence of pressure ulcers in a given population, I do not limit my role as a data collector but also as a disseminator of the latest clinical evidences relating to pressure prevention and treatment.

My interest in research has been due, in most part, in reading and listening to significant investigations of phenomena that bears nursing implications. Sadly, this interest has not been generated by my baccalaureate preparation in nursing, but rather in being associated with researchers themselves, most of whom are not nurses. Their passion in problem identification and generating hypotheses as well as their commitment in respecting the rights and humanity of their subjects while finding answers to the same fascinated me. Their generation of a “new mirror” for others to view reality and to make this reality a springboard for improving care became the impetus in my joining the hospital’s research team.

In India, research is taught in the baccalaureate level as part of the BSc. in nursing curriculum. The purpose of its inclusion in the curriculum is to promote the student nurse’s understanding of the research process. The focus is for the nurse to eventually be a consumer of research, not a generator of one. However, the reality is that these courses are taught by nurses who have never done research before nor have been exposed to the rigors of the research process. Thus the objective of making the nurse a consumer of research is rarely accomplished because mentorship is deficient. This deficiency thus propagates the impotence of practicing nurses in understanding, supporting, or participating in research. Thus, a first step in generating interest in research among practicing nurses is to ensure that the educational preparation of nurses include meaningful, sane, and coherent orientations to the research process. This can be accomplished by the adherence of schools of nursing to the research requirement to award a degree in nursing. As a research nurse, I will lobby the Indian Nursing Council to make sure that research as a subject area in the curriculum does not get clumped to the adjunctive courses in nursing but rather classified as an integral part of nursing education. In addition, I will recommend that faculty teaching Research in the baccalaureate level should be Master’s prepared nurses with appropriate experience in clinical research to increase the depth and breadth of teaching in the content of the subject to potential consumers.

Other than revising the educational preparation, practicing nurses can also be encouraged to get involved in research by creating an environment that supports and recognizes its importance. As a research nurse, I pass information on significant research findings that affect the way nurses practice. When research is seen as relevant to practice, enthusiasm in research among nurses becomes evident. New ways of approaching patient care are based on research and communicating these links to nurses make them cognizant of the importance and impact research exerts on patient care and nursing practice.

Interest in research among nurses can also be fostered by having research nurses impart to colleagues how his or her present investigations may impact practice. This can be accomplished by sharing, as much as possible, the reasons we seek answers to questions to those that will be impacted b y the same. When research nurses do not share these to colleagues, they continue to mystify the role of a research nurse, as well as diminish the value and dissemination of research. In my role as a research nurse in a tertiary hospital in the national capital region of India, I always make sure that my role is clear to nurses that I work with. I underscore my nursing background so that they know that part of nursing is investigating phenomena, and that the objective of such an activity is to improve the way patient care is delivered. I also encourage others to participate in any research activity that my department is currently engaged in so that it will improve the view of nurses of research as an integral nursing activity.

In summary, in order for Indian nurses to be encouraged in research, change has to come from several sides. Research as a subject in the nursing curriculum has to receive more attention than is currently accorded it. Likewise, it is important that research nurses encourage the participation of colleagues in research activities so that a deepening of nurse’s understanding of the value of research may be accomplished.

  • jobygeorge05 Joby George 18 Feb 2016

    Thanks Rene Goliath for your valuable comment,I appreciate your interest towards exploring research nursing.GRN/GHT is a store house of valuable information which guides every researcher for end to end management of research studies.

    Best wishes to you and Stay connected .

    Joby George,
    Nurse Researcher,Member and Regional faculty,

  • rtgoliath Rene Goliath 17 Feb 2016

    Thank you this article. Im joining the quest to have a post basic diploma in research nursing as recognised qualification in South Africa as well

    Having the opportunity to train and learn a specialised skill and qualification for which nurses can receive recognition is very important